The Power of Connection and Collaboration

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Fun fact: I was a writing assistant in college from 2013-2015.

Here is a letter that I wrote about collaboration before I graduated in 2015.

The UNH Robert Connors Writing Center found me when I was in a very vulnerable place. I had just declared english as my major and I had yet to find a place where I fit in. The minute that I stepped through the writing center doors, I knew that I found my home. It didn’t hurt that there was a giant bowl of candy at the front desk when you walked in. I was a sucker for purple Jolly Ranchers.

It was the first community that I felt like I could be myself in in a long time. I was supported, celebrated, heard, seen, and respected - qualities and characteristics that I always made sure to turn around and instill in my students.

What was unique about the center was the giant wooden table in the corner of the room that we all sat at. There were two small computer tables and a chair or two available when you walked in, but the big table was pretty much the only place to sit in the whole space. It was more than a staging area between conferences - it was a place for playing games, discussing writing center theory, arguing over book-to-film adaptations (Harry Potter still beats Lord of the Rings), exchanging recipes, and learning and growing together. It was the heartbeat of our work individually and together.

What started as my worst nightmare (shy kid wanted to be alone), quickly became my safe space. I went there when I was working and when I wasn’t. When I couldn’t be there, I desperately wanted to be. That is what the power of authentic connection does to you. It was why students would come over and play games at the table with us while waiting for a conference - that emotional, physical, and mental connection is magnetic. My time at the center showed me just how much we naturally crave that connection, and how much we glow/shine when we receive it.

My favorite part about working at the center wasn’t just gathering at the table (though it was the highlight of my day), it was watching students transform during our fifty-minute sessions. My eyes lit up watching them go from confused to confident about their writing and writing process. Getting unstuck was easier than they thought, and was often as simple as reading their work out loud or trying reverse outlining with colored gel pens. I pretty much melted into the floor whenever one of them told me that writing wasn’t as bad as they thought or that they even enjoyed it.

What is funny is they probably thought that I was teaching them, but they were really teaching me. Their willingness to learn always inspired me. I loved having many of them come back for multiple sessions over the years, and witness them grow as writers. I loved hearing their stories and how they interpreted the world around them. I loved providing them with a safe space to be themselves and showing them the value in standing in their own voice. It was the greatest gift I could ever ask for.

The experiences and conversations that I had both at and away from the big table lasted far beyond working hours. The friendships and mentors that I gained impacted (and continue to impact) me more than I could ever begin to put into words.

I want every single one my clients to experience the same genuine connection, honest collaboration, and creative magic that I did.

Pull up a chair and let’s talk. You are safe. Your stories are welcome here.